The Venice of the Netherlands

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June 10th 2018
Published: June 20th 2018
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Sunday the motor home sale places are closed so it gave us the chance to have a day out and explore this part of Holland. I did some research of things to see and do in the area and one place that was worth seeing is Giethoorn a popular picturesque car-free village with its boat-filled waterways, footpaths, bike trails and centuries old thatched roof houses. The fact its built on waterways earned its nickname "Venice of Holland". The village borders a section of Weerrbben-Wieden National Park, a marshy areas once known for its peat and read harvesting. Tourists travel 1.5 hours from Amsterdam to visit Giethoorn, fortunately for us its only about half and hour down the road!

It was a lovely sunny day so perfect for an outing to a chocolate box village. We parked near the Tourist Information centre only to find it closed! who closes a Tourist Information Centre on a Sunday one might ask! one of the busiest days of the week. No matter it was easy to find the start of the walking trail to the village, just follow the hoards. Seeing the number of people we did wonder whether we had picked the wrong day to come here but the weather was nice and we didn't know how much time we had during the week and we were here now. We walked along the canal, passing signs for boat hire and tour boats. The canal looked quite busy with boat traffic, I did fancy hiring a boat but as we neared the hub of the village we quickly change our mind, it was like the M25 at rush hour! We stopped at 't Olde Maat Uus farm museum which is an authentic farm house displaying the full history of the village and how it grew from peat harvesting. There were numerous displays of costumes, photos and objects of the past. The rooms were setup to show how they lived, it was fascinating and definitely worth seeing.

The main canal runs the length of the village with smaller canals joining into it on either side. In between smaller canals were islands of character filled thatched homes with neat pretty gardens, it was so lovely we could see now this was named the prettiest village in Holland. Giethoorn has 180 little wooden bridges connecting one side of the main canal to the other, it did remind me so much of Venice. We strolled the footpath along the canal watching the entertainment on the water, it looked like the dodgems fairground ride, boats one after the other with some occupants not having a clue how to steer or looking where they were going and bumping into other boats! We never laughed so much at the fiasco, we were just glad that we chose not to hire a boat. The footpath was quieter but not by much, it really was quite busy but not just with tourists but Dutch as well.

Hiring a boat is a good way to see the village as the walking path only takes you along the main canal, it you want to explore the smaller canals and the lake then you need a boat. When hiring a boat you are given a map of the route to follow, by the looks of it its only one way, good job otherwise it would be demolition derby, the canal is not that wide. If you didn't want to hire your own boat then you could take a tour on one of the larger boats. We plan to come back during the week to hire one in the hope it is much quieter.

Along the main canal are pubs and restaurants but they were a bit on the pricey side, we continued to walk almost to the end of the village when we saw a snack van with tables and chairs set out on the grass in front of it. This was lunch, a healthy cone of chips with Mayonaise for €2.50, it was perfect and we could watch the boat show while enjoying it. Our whole lunch with drinks cost us less than €8 the price of a starter on one of the fancy menu boards on the overpriced restaurants. It was our aim while here in Holland to try many of the popular snacks like Kroket, Stroopwaffel and Bitterballen, as unhealthy as they are they are tasty, except for maybe Frikandel, that is something I don't like. We walked a little further up where the canal made a turn up towards the lake, the corner seemed to be a popular spot for bumping boats so we stopped and watched the show. We walked perhaps another 50 meters until we started to run out of village then walked back stopping at an ice cream shop and a pub for some afternoon refreshments.

When we reached the church we thought we would go inside and have a look only to find it was closed. We continued on walking along the canal in the other direction, still with beautiful picturesque houses. A cheese shop caught our eye so we ventured in, they had about 15 different flavours of Edam you could try, we bought a couple. We continued to walk as far as the path would take us enjoying the lovely houses and watching the boats on the canal. One Indian couple had pulled over and stepped out on to a private homes lawn, what we saw next was quite amusing, the young bloke had a net and was trying to fish something out the water. By the behavior I would say he had dropped his phone or something that was not meant to be dropped into the canal! Time was getting on so we made our way back to the car and headed home. It had been a lovely day and we said we would definitely return to Geithoorn and hire a boat.

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